|No Thanks in Phoenix|
Two days after people all over the country celebrated Thanksgiving, The Master’s College men’s basketball team found little to be thankful for Saturday afternoon as Southwestern of Arizona rallied from a second-half deficit to stun the Mustangs 81-65.
In a tale of two different halves, the Mustangs’ first-ever loss to the Eagles dropped their record to 3-2. Following a first half in which they never trailed, the Mustangs’ demise came about suddenly during an 8½-minute window in the second half. Down 50-46 with 11:39 left in the game, the host Eagles proceeded to outscore the Mustangs 25-6 in that decisive window of play.
It started with a 14-1 burst that turned that four-point deficit into a nine-point lead (60-51) with 8:57 remaining. Just under six minutes later, a Kurt Foreman jumper capped off the scoring barrage for a 71-56 advantage. The Mustangs never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
It was a dramatic turn of events after the Mustangs controlled the opening 20 minutes. Making his first start of the season, guard Brandon Bibbins drained a three-pointer 33 seconds into play for a quick lead. The Eagles tied the game at six apiece with 16:23 left but a 12-2 run, keyed by a quartet of treys, over a 2:20 span gave the Mustangs a comfortable 10-point (18-8) advantage.
Sophomore Devin Dyer started the long-range bombing and was followed by Anthony Cammon and Joey Fuca, who drained a pair of trifectas in a 45-second window. Another three-pointer, this one from Leif Karlberg, gave the Mustangs a 21-11 lead before the Eagles started to chip away.
In a 53-second span, the hosts outscored the Mustangs 7-2 and closed to 23-18 on two A. J. Koch free throws. But, the Mustangs responded with a spurt of their own, tallying seven of the next eight points to grab their largest lead (30-19) of the half on a three-point play by Paul Brown.
It didn’t last long as the Eagles whittled away at the deficit over the final eight minutes of the period and this time the Mustangs didn’t have an answer. Following Brown’s bucket and free throw, the Eagles reeled off 14 of the next 17 points and tied the contest at 33-all on Houston Friend’s trey at the 2:15 mark.
The Mustangs reclaimed the lead on an Anthony Wells’ charity toss and a Ronnie Dodd basket. The Eagles pulled to within one point on two Daniel Stanton free throws but Wells’ jumper with four ticks left on the clock sent the Mustangs to halftime ahead 38-35.
Over the opening 20 minutes, the Mustangs shot just 39% from the field but the Eagles managed just 37.5% accuracy. Fuca paced the Mustangs with seven points.
Those numbers changed significantly in the second half as the Eagles used their game-changing surge to post a 54% mark from the field while the Mustangs converted just 33% of their shots. Even more telling were the numbers from behind the arc. The Eagles were 6-10 from long range while the Mustangs were a paltry 1-15.
Wells was the lone Mustang in double figures, scoring 14 points, but even he was just 4-12 overall and 0-5 from three-point range. Dodd was one of three Mustangs next in line with eight points and his 11 rebounds were a game-high.
Returning to the Southland, the Mustangs resume GSAC action on Tuesday when they travel to Fullerton to take on Hope International.